France has passed a new law requiring grocery shoppers to donate their close to expiring food to food banks instead of disposing of it. This seems like a mindless, kind of “duh” law. Why wouldn’t you donate edible food to people who don’t have access to food? In 1996, Bill Clinton signed The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. This act was supposed to encourage food chains to donate their unused food that was deemed cosmetically unsellable, but still edible.
Despite this, there aren’t a notable amount of retailers that publicly state they donate their unsold food the food banks. Truth be told, I didn’t know that the Federal Bill Emerson Good
Samaritan Food Donation Act existed until I wanted to see if the United States ever considered doing what the French senate unanimously voted into law. Incidentally, I also learned that this act just got rid of one of the many excuses a grocery stores have created in order to avoid donating food.
Now, I am not saying that there are no grocery stores in the U.S. that donate food, and that we are watching people starve from the safety of our carts full of Oreos. What I am saying is that the reasons why some stores don’t donate unsold food are completely ridiculous and founded upon using legal jargon to confuse people. In 2014, Harrison Jacobs wrote an article for businessinsider.com entitled, “Here’s Why Wasted Food Doesn’t Get to Poor People.” This brief article basically says that many large companies don’t donate food because it’s a “liability”, even though the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects companies from it, and that stores don’t have the room to store food until organizations like Feeding America can come retrieve it. On top of the fact that many stores don’t even know that they should and can donate food to organizations through the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
However, this Act is not a law, and so stores can continue to dispose of their food in any way they deem fit. So what we should do is support the places that do what they can to help feed the hungry. One company in particular and a personal favorite of mine, Panera Bread, donates all of their baked goods to local food banks at the end of the day. In addition to this, they established Panera Cares Community Cafes that function on a pay-as-much-as-you-can basis.
And the only thing better than enjoying macaroni and cheese in a bread bowl, is knowing that you’re helping feed your hungry neighbors.